If you were to talk to Dara about wine, you’d be tapping into one of her favorite topics. Author of “Drink This: Wine Made Simple”, Dara has a passion for wines much like she has a passion for fresh, local food. What’s different about a great salad and a great wine? It’s as similar as vegetables that are grown and turned into amazing food and grapes that are grown at vineyards and turned into amazing wine.
Yet wine, varietals, years, countries of origin, etc. can turn wine into a mysterious world that overwhelms so many of us. It should be as simple as “what tastes good to you?” The nuances of the grapes and how they’re fermented can be as delicious and rewarding as a great meal.
How did Dara decide what are the best wine bars? Two conditions basically. It has to appeal to the “wine snob” and the “wine novice”. You have to have very interesting, well-sourced, unusual and interesting wines for those that know their grapes. You also have to appeal to the novice by showing them wines that taste good, to communicate that, talk about it and give it to customers in a very accessible way.
So there you have it. Dara’s Top 5 Wine Bars in the Twin Cities!
Toast Wine Bar
415 N 1st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
In the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, land of many new and wonderful restaurants that seemingly pop up every week, is Toast Wine Bar. It’s a brainy, esoteric little place that will bend over backwards to get you the glass you want. They bring you a top-shelf and simple antipasti too. Toast has a great selection from around the world (bubbly from the Basque region of Spain, dark reds from Macedonia, Sardinian Rose, etc). You’ll love the wine and you’ll feel comfortable at Toast!
W.A. Frost and Company
374 Selby Ave.
St Paul, MN 55102
It’s hard to think about W.A. Frost and their magnificent patio right now (as it snows in April). But look beyond that patio and take in the Vino. The wine list is world-class (with many available by the glass) and on top of that, they have as good a cheese program as you’ll find in Minnesota. Perfect for enjoying with your wine.
If you’re really into trying a few different types, this is your place. They offer a fantastic deal on wine flights. For the price of one wine, you can get three smaller glasses on a theme. Things like Oregon Pinot Noir’s or Oak Chardonnay’s offered up with three different wine tastings. It teaches you a lot about wine along with being delicious.
Domacin Wine Bar
102 2nd St S #1
Stillwater, MN 55082
Staying in the east metro and travelling up to Stillwater, you’ll find Domacin Wine Bar. Up on the hill, and off the main drag in Stillwater, Domacin is a world of wine. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of bottles, constantly changing by-the-glass options and a staff that knows their wine inside and out. You can dig deep into wine with delicious and refreshing Rieslings, deeply violet scented Cab Francs plus pair it perfectly to their perfectly wine-focused food plates. Named one of the top wine bars in the US by Travel and Leisure Magazine, Domacin is without question one of the top spots for a vino in the Twin Cities.
412 St Peter St.
St Paul, MN 55102
Meritage in Downtown St. Paul is number two on Dara’s list. From the Oyster Bar to the decor to the huge wine list, this is your perfect trip to Paris without the cost of airfare. Sommelier Nicolas Giraud put together a great list with a lot of French offerings including some amazing Premier Cru Meursault wines by the glass, if you know what that means. If you don’t, it’s really, really good wine that’s worth having. They also offer many elite wines from California and some amazing food options. More importantly, this is just a fun place to be. The folks behind Meritage will soon be opening Brasserie Zentral in Minneapolis so that you don’t have to cross the river if you don’t want to (they are starting to take reservations in April).
Terzo Vino Bar
2221 W 50th St
Minneapolis, MN 55419
We’ve just been to France, so where to go for number one? Italy. Specifically, Italy in South Minneapolis at the newest offering from the Broder’s family, Terzo Vino Bar. It’s fairly new in the area near Lake Harriet and if you have been to Broder’s Pasta Bar you know how good their Italian food is. Terzo takes wine as seriously as they take their food with an all Italian list. There are 50 by-the-glass offerings a night, carafes, bottles, cheap options, expensive and prestigious options and some humble yet amazing food. The housemade Mortadella is amazing, the Prosciutto options are fabulous, the other menu items are playful and perfect for sharing with the wine. Terzo just does it right, not over-extending themselves and keeping it simple. All Italian, all carefully chosen and broad enough so that anyone, from novice to snob, can enjoy!